London School of Economics EOPP: Economic Organisation and Public Policy Programme LSE
EOPP: Economic Organisation and Public Policy Programme

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Pre-Colonial Political Centralization and Contemporary Development in Uganda

Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay, Elliott Green, August 2012
Paper No' EOPP 039: | Full paper (pdf)
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This Paper is published under the following series: Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers
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Abstract:

The importance of pre-colonial history on contemporary African development has become an important .eld of study within development economics in recent years. In particular Gennaioli and Rainer (2007) suggest that pre-colonial political centralization has had an impact on con- temporary levels of development within Africa at the country level. We test the Gennaioli and Rainer (2007) hypothesis at the sub-national level with evidence from Uganda. Using a variety of datasets we obtain results which are striking in two ways. First, we con.rm the Gennaioli and Rainer (2007) hypothesis that pre-colonial centralization is highly correlated with modern- day development outcomes such as GDP, asset ownership and poverty levels, and that these correlations hold at the district, sub-county and individual levels. We also use an instrumental variable approach to con.rm this .nding using the distance from ancient capital of Mubende as an instrument. However, our second .nding is that public goods like immunization coverage and primary school enrolment are not correlated with pre-colonial centralization. These .ndings are thus consistent with a correlation between pre-colonial centralization and private rather than public goods, thereby suggesting the persistence of poverty and wealth from the pre-colonial period to the present.